Leominster, MA – October 20, 2020 – AIS, a leading manufacturer of commercial office furniture and seating, announced that MassEcon has named AIS a Local Impact Corporate Hero in recognition of how the company responded to the global pandemic.
MassEcon, the state’s private sector partner in promoting business growth in Massachusetts, has held the Team Massachusetts Economic Impact Awards for the past 16 years. In a year of tremendous challenges due to COVID-19, MassEcon changed the award in 2020 to honor organizations that have strived to solve problems, serve their communities and provide for the livelihood of their employees during the global public health and economic crisis.
“Amidst the loss of life and economic and social hardship brought by the pandemic, we have seen incredible acts of selflessness, sacrifice, and resilience among the people of Massachusetts,” stated Peter Abair, MassEcon’s Executive Director. “In honoring these awardees for their remarkable efforts against the pandemic, we hope to begin to shine a light on why Massachusetts is such a special place to live in this world.”
This year, 10 companies were honored with this distinction, narrowed down from more than 30 nominations. In order to qualify, companies needed to be headquartered in Massachusetts and must have responded to the COVID-19 crisis in one of three ways: met a need in battling the COVID-19 crisis with a product or service; met the needs of the community and the state through extraordinary charitable actions; or met the needs of its employees through extraordinary efforts to sustain their employment under adverse business circumstances caused by the pandemic.
AIS was nominated for the award by Bill Manley, Owner of Calare Properties, an AIS customer. “AIS was an Essential Employer in our state and they checked all three of the hero boxes for this award thanks to a commitment to their 800 employees, their philanthropic efforts with the Sew the Masks initiative, and the numerous safety protocols the company implemented to keep factory workers and office teams safe,” said Manley.
AIS responded early during the initial COVID-19 outbreak by turning their seating line into a facemask production area. To ensure the health and safety of their employees, AIS distributed masks to every onsite employee. They quickly produced and donated thousands of facemasks to first responders and frontline workers in their community who were at higher risk of infection.
As the nation’s shortage of facemasks continued to grow, so did AIS’s commitment to increasing production and distribution. They expanded their efforts by partnering with the United Way of North Central Massachusetts and created a Sew The Masks not-for-profit initiative www.sewthemasks.com based on Rosie the Riveter, the WWII icon. Through in-house seamstresses and over 1000 community sewers called “Rosies” in 45 states, the company has donated over 200,000 facemasks to essential workers, schools, non-profits, and individuals in need.
In addition to facemask production while continuing to manufacture their standard and custom office furniture solutions for critical customers, AIS rapidly developed and produced glass and Lexan™ screens to help contain the COVID-19 virus as states reopen and employees return to work. Screens were prioritized in accelerated product development and produced in a converted section of the 600,000 square foot factory to meet the onslaught of demand.
To protect the health and well-being of its employees, the company initiated stringent practices in accordance with CDC and WHO guidelines throughout their organization, including: increased mechanical ventilation, increased full time cleaning staff, addition of sanitizer stations throughout facility, daily temperature checks, mandated masks throughout facility, social distancing in factory and office areas, and more.
“We are genuinely honored to be on this esteemed list of organizations in our state of Massachusetts. Keeping our company open and our employees safe while finding ways to help at-risk individuals stay protected against the spread of COVID-19 has been our mission since this all began. Being recognized by MassEcon for these actions is a testament to the hardworking employees at AIS and their relentless efforts in 2020,” said President and CEO of AIS Bruce Platzman.
Companies that have earned the distinction of Corporate Hero by MassEcon will be honored on November 24th. Award-winning journalist and WBZ-TV news anchor Lisa Hughes will be the Master of Ceremonies for this virtual celebration. To learn more about the event or become a sponsor, click here.
AIS, headquartered in Leominster, Massachusetts, is a leading manufacturer of commercial office furniture and boasts one of the most impressive stories of growth and success in the furniture industry. Founded in 1989, the company is known for offering market-relevant, feature-rich product lines that entice designers and support the diverse needs of end-users while offering exceptional value. AIS is an innovator that leads the industry in sustainable, lean manufacturing, lead-time performance and manufacturing flexibility. The Boston Business Journal has twice recognized AIS – in 2019 and 2020 - with its Corporate Citizenship Award. AIS has permanent showrooms at its Leominster headquarters and also in Chicago, New York City and Washington, D.C. With locations across the U.S., AIS has more than 800 employees and over 1 million square feet of office, showroom and factory space. Sales for 2019 were $220 million. AIS founded the Sew the Masks program with the United Way of North Central Massachusetts in May 2020 to help in the fight of COVID-19 with a goal to produce and deliver 1 million masks. For more information, visit www.ais-inc.com and www.sewthemasks.com.